Friday Feature: Abimbola Ogundare

Posted by Karli Henning on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:38 AM

Abimbola Ogundare

January 12th, 2018: Every other Friday, WMU Aviation is featuring one of our outstanding students. The students that get chosen to be featured are recommended by faculty members and demonstrate excellent effort, participation, and growth in their classes and extracurricular activities. This Friday’s feature is Abimbola Ogundare.

Abimbola Ogundare final.jpg

Abimbola Ogundare is an international student from Nigeria, Africa. His major is Aviation Maintenance Technology. Abimbola Ogundare decided to attend WMU because of its reputation as a top aviation program. He was also impressed with the diversity at WMU.

In addition to his schooling, Abimbola Ogundare is interested in art and drawing. He is also on the WMU rugby club team and is a part of the recently formed track club. Abimbola Ogundare is a member of the Bronco African Student Association (BASA) on campus as well.

In regards to his favorite memory at the CoA so far, Abimbola Ogundare says that he was impressed and surprised with Aviation Outlook Day. He states, “I was overjoyed with the amount of information I got and the kind of people I had the opportunity to speak with. Being able to meet people from different companies was the best. I am still waiting for an event that will top that.”

After he graduates, Abimbola Ogundare does not have an exact plan, but he hopes to find a good aviation job. He also hopes to improve his artwork and go to graduate school.

Topics: Aviation, aviation maintenance, WMU

It's a great day to Gear Up With Gold

Posted by Eric Epplett on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

It's a great day to Gear Up With Gold.

Matt Bila
Aviation Management and Operations

Probably the most common question I get when I conduct tours and talk to prospective students and their families is, “What sets WMU apart from other collegiate aviation programs?”FW pic 2017.jpg My answer is always resources and the quality of education. Almost every week, regional airline companies visit the College of Aviation at Western Michigan University in search for potential new hires from all three of our majors. There is a reason that they come to us and why 94% of our students find a job upon graduation. The quality of education and the resources available are hard to beat. The College of Aviation consistently ranks top three in the nation and we recently introduced our largest incoming freshman class!

In 2019, the College of Aviation will turn 80 years old. That means not only are we well established within the industry, but we have been able to accumulate a lot tools and equipment over the years. We have several aircraft that are used strictly for hands-on learning and excitingly this past spring, I had the opportunity to help start the engines of our Boeing 727, something that will really be a once in a lifetime experience! Days like that only solidify my decision of attending WMU and the College of Aviation. 

The College of Aviation offers three programs, one of which is Aviation Maintenance Technology. This is a program that is really taking off and as a new partnership with Delta TechOps begins, there are endless opportunities. During their coursework, students will have the ability to rebuild an engine, take apart and reassemble an airplane, create an airfoil using carbon fiber, and much more!

For those looking to pursue a career in aviation management, our program is designed to expose you to as many aspects of the field of aviation as possible. Whether that is studying meteorology or taking an aircraft power plants class, our goal is for you to feel confident no matter what career path you take. In addition, students will take classes at Western’s Haworth College of Business, which was recently named a “top-tier business school” by U.S. News & World Report! 

Our flight department utilizes the Cirrus SR20 as our primary training aircraft. All of them come standard with the Avidyne R9 glass cockpit and SkyWatch traffic avoidance system. The College of Aviation is a part 141 flight school, so we have similar operational components to an airline or corporate flight department. For example, we have a full service dispatch and a supervisor of flight that is always on call whenever there is a training flight being conducted. On top of our aircraft, five state of the art flight simulators bring additional training opportunities.

wings.jpgThe College of Aviation is a community within itself. Since we are the smallest college at Western, we are also the most personable. I have never felt as if I was just a number. You will get to know your professors and it is not uncommon to have a college wide BBQ. If you are thinking of joining an aviation registered student organization while on campus (something that I highly recommend), there are several to pick from such as Alpha Eta Rho, National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA), Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, and Women in Aviation to name a few. Joining an RSO is just another way of getting your name out to potential employers while spending time with your friends.

The College of Aviation is entering an exciting few years. Not only are we continuing to grow our fleet, but beginning this January, we will be embarking on a multi-million-dollar expansion and renovation to our facilities at the Battle Creek airport. The construction will be completed in mid-2019 and will add additional

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classrooms, an updated/expanded simulator bay, a new main entrance foyer, and much more. If you’ve already toured our facilities and thought they were impressive, just wait, the best is yet to come! This comes off the exciting opening of our new campus in Punta Gorda, Florida, where we have entered our first semester of instruction.

As you can see, the College of Aviation at Western Michigan University is always adapting to best educate the future of aviation professionals. Whether you are an inspiring pilot, maintenance technician, or manager, you will find a home here. I have met some amazing friends at Western and as I am entering my third year, I could not have imagine going to school anywhere else. I look forward to welcoming you to our college and as always, it is a great day to Gear Up with Gold!

Go Broncos!

Matt Bila

WMU Aviation Ambassador

Topics: Aviation, WMU, Western Michigan University, WMU Aviation

Professional Preparation

Posted by Eric Epplett on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 @ 08:36 AM

Chris Desmond
Aviation Flight Science

IMG_2054.pngThey say, “its not what you know, but who you know.” Many people now a days, are attending college solely due to the fact that it is a requirement for the job they are seeking. However, university studies are much more than that, whether joining Greek life, student based organizations, or just focusing on the here and now, there are many opportunities that are provided to us as students that go unnoticed. These organizations have the possibility to introduce us to a whole new group of people and fulfill the “who you know” stated in the first sentence, whereas the classes fill up the “what you know.”

There’s no doubt that aviation is a tight-knit community, more so than many young pilots realize. Actions do not go unheard or unseen, and coming from a reputable and highly respected University that works closely with aviation professionals across the country and world, gives Western Michigan students a huge leg up on our peers that have chosen a separate way into the industry. Connections make the world turn and networking makes sure that, you as a student and potential future employee, are turning with it.

My career path of choice differs from many at the College of Aviation. However, that is attributed to my upbringing in aviation. Being from Central Florida, I have attended the annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In and Expo for close to the last 14 years. In doing so I have been welcomed into a very tight nit, family like group of airshow performers, pilots and professionals. These pilots, like all of us, know that we have to inspire our next generation of pilots and keep the love of flight thriving; luckily, we are able to do so in a manor that we all love as well. Through the mentorship of some of the airshow greats, I have my eyes set on becoming one of the best airshow performers and following in the footsteps of those like Rob Holland; who told me “Have a Plan A, no Plan B, and never look back.”

The College of Aviation at Western Michigan University has prepared me, and all of it’s students for the “real world” once we graduate. As a flight science student, we still take many business classes with the opportunity to take more as electives. As a member of a start up company ran by 3 people under the age of 25, these business classes and experiences have proven to be invaluable, and will continue to prove so in my future. My dream as an airshow pilot is much more than just flying. It requires the management of a business, how to stay safe and put on a good show, how to inspire others, and how to introduce our next generation into the greatest career that we have all been blessed with. I look forward to these exciting times ahead, but know that my success can largely be attributed to my degree as a professional pilot, from Western Michigan University.

Topics: Aviation, aviation schools, WMU, flying, Flight training

The Love of Aviation-Passing my Private Pilot Check Ride

Posted by Eric Epplett on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Suzie Targosz
Aviation Flight Science

Suzie1.pngI am not sure the exact moment I fell in love with aviation. For as long as I can remember, I have longed to fly. Throughout my childhood, I can recall walking down the pebble path, hundreds of times, to the hidden gem known as Charlie’s Restaurant located on Clow International Airport. I loved to push my little nose against the window and watch planes takeoff and land. I would lay in the dandelion covered fields of Lewis University Airport and watch planes dance and twirl above me. For years, I dressed up as Amelia Earhart for Halloween. My costume included oversized aviators that would barely stay on my head, an olive green flight suit, a brown leather flight jacket, and of course a white silk scarf.

I guess you could say my childhood was a bit different than others. The desire to fly has been passed down throughout my family. My grandpa, mom, dad, uncle, brother and I are all bound together by the same passion for flying. Constantly surrounded by aviation while I was growing up, inspired me to pursue a career as a professional pilot and shaped me into the person I am today.

After years of pestering my parents to let me learn how to fly, I was finally enrolled as an Aviation Flight Science student at Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation. Throughout the course of my freshman year, I worked on my private pilot certificate. It was in these months that I had my first solo, worked on maneuvers, perfected my landings, started planning/flying cross-countries, as well as learned the required ground knowledge. Finally, it was September 1st. The day I had been dreaming about since I was a little girl. I walked into the airport full of excitement with the hopes that I would become a private pilot. Although it was one of the longest and most exhausting days of my life, it was also the most rewarding. The most memorable part of the day was when I called my parents afterward. Their reaction when I surprised them with the news that I passed my check ride was one I will never forget. I am so thankful for their constant encouragement, love, and support.

I could not have accomplished this without the help of my family, peers, and the wonderful staff at WMU’s College Suzie2.pngof Aviation. Their dedication and devotion to their students is truly remarkable. The high quality of training at the College of Aviation is unparalleled. I cannot wait to continue my training at Western and am looking forward to many more unforgettable days at W.K. Kellogg Airport.

Topics: Aviation, WMU, flying

NGPA Spotlight

Posted by Eric Epplett on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 @ 09:14 AM

Reina Cooke
Aviation Management and OperationsIMG_5093.jpg

This fall, Western Michigan University established a collegiate chapter of the National Gay Pilots Association, becoming only the second chapter on a college campus. Now serving as Vice President, I work to enforce our mission of providing support, mentorship, and networking opportunities for LGBT students in aviation and raising awareness of the NGPA and LGBT issues at flight schools in the United States. These chapters also provide students with leadership and scholarship opportunities, and engagement with the larger network of aviation professionals in NGPA.

Do I identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community? No. Am I a member of NGPA? Proudly. I chose to join this7358A853-8F50-4A75-855A-AA4B298FE989-1.jpg organization as an ally. Even before (I thought) I knew anyone who was gay or transgender, equality for their community was important to me. I view wavering apathy as an endorsement of the second-class treatment of the LGBT community, so I decided to get involved. I want to change the stigma from it being a “gay issue” to a “human rights issue”. A large aspect of being an ally is establishing ourselves within our social and professional communities as someone who will not tolerate homophobia or transphobia. It creates the difference between “there’s no one gay here, so I can say this” and “gay people exist, so I should never say this”. Furthermore, we are given the privilege of educating others who may not be as open-minded. We can hold conversations that others cannot. By joining WMU’s chapter of NGPA, I’m given a channel to make a difference.

IMG_4657.jpgWhile working to promote equality, I’m also given unique, exciting, and humbling opportunities. This January, our chapter traveled to Palm Springs, California to participate in NGPA’s Winter Warm Up. Here, thanks to the NGPA Industry Expo, we were able to network with every major airline. Representatives from multiple aviation companies were present and speaking about internships, scholarships, and job opportunities. Furthermore, guest speakers, such as AOPA’s president, Mark Baker, gave multiple presentations about current topics in aviation. Lastly, fun events brought the whole experience together; Queen of the Fleet showcases members’ general aviation aircraft and gives attendees the chance to explore these beautiful aircraft. Nightly dinners continue to encourage socialization and further the relationship between the industry members and attendees. And the event being held in California??? Palm trees, mountains, and hot tubs in January…. I’m there. As an aspiring aviation professional, the connections I made with these and many more members of the professional aviation community are invaluable and have already been utilized. Our chapter was able to host Flight Deck Pride: Flying through Barriers for Equality. Representatives from United Airlines were present to speak about their plan of aviation for diversity, in addition to their relationship with NGPA. Also, airline pilots that we met at Palm Springs joined to speak about their experiences as an LGBT pilot.

If you’re a current WMU student interested in joining our organization, please contact or or check out and Like our Facebook page! Our next meeting is Tuesday, February 21st in the Bernhard Center. Again, we’re more than gay pilots and we would love to have you!

Topics: Aviation, Aviation Opportunities, WMU, NGPA

Freshman to Senior

Posted by Eric Epplett on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 10:08 AM

Freshman to Senior 
Lindsay Mason
Aviation Flight Science

Time surely does fly when you’re having fun, that’s what I have learned during my short three years as an aviation flight science student at Western Michigan University. Graduation is quickly approaching, and I find myself contemplating my chosen path in my major. There are so many different career paths to choose after graduation, that it almost seems overwhelming. Fortunately, if you get involved on campus as a freshman, the transition will be clean cut. My advice to future students at the College of Aviation would be to GET INVOLVED, network, and stay positive!  

Getting involved is one of the most important moves you could make as a freshman. Join a few registered student organizations, the College of Aviation has over nine to choose from! Don’t be afraid to also join organizations outside of aviation, it is always refreshing to meet others with different majors. While it is a great idea to join these organizations, make sure you can handle the time commitment. 

Networking keeps the aviation world turning. It is all about who you know, many scholarships and internships are obtainable through networking. The College of Aviation strives to create events for their students to promote networking. The most popular event would be Aviation Outlook Day, which takes place once a year bringing in hundreds of students and professionals in the industry.  

Staying positive is the best way to reach your goals. Having a positive mental attitude not only is beneficial to you, but may influence others to also be positive and strive in their major. I have realized in my final semester as a College of Aviation student, that if you do not stay positive and you let the little things get to you, nothing good will come out of it.  

All in all, the College of Aviation prepared me to obtain my goal of becoming a professional pilot, and paved the way to being hired by a major airline. College is not easy, it will be the best time of your life but it will also bring struggles, stress, and exhaustion. If you prepare yourself and follow some of the tips I have provided, it will definitely help you to get a tremendous headstart. 


Topics: Aviation, WMU, WMU Broncos

Automation in Aviation

Posted by Eric Epplett on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 04:18 PM

Dakota Neff

Aviation Flight Science

Management & Operations

Automation in Aviation

Human error in aviation cockpits has been a cause for major aviation accidents worldwide. Many methods and strategies are currently in place to target human error however, there are still many solutions to be found. Major aircraft manufacturers are re-designing cockpits for pilots to eliminate specific factors that may distract the pilot. Airlines, corporate companies, and military personnel are currently implementing new training procedures, checklists, and simulator emergencies that will train them to deal with unexpected situations. These processes have established positive feedback with pilots and operators however, these factors are not entirely eliminated.

The aviation industry is currently dealing with an issue regarding pilot input leading to catastrophic accidents. As accidents continue to occur, solutions to this matter are needed. As the aviation industry continues to soar, the demand for new pilots is growing. Therefore, new training programs are needed to teach rookie pilots human error mistakes can result in danger to the passengers they are carrying. These programs will allow for a safer mode of transportation for future travelers. Aviation safety is key for this industry and a solution to this issue needs to be reached.

Solutions to this issue and how to address it are being addressed on a consistent basis to eliminate this issue. Aviation requires many jobs working together to complete a task. For pilots, this interaction between each other is known as crew resource management (CRM). Crew resource management was first introduced when an accident occurred in 1978 when an airline passenger jet crashed after the crew had lost situational awareness of the emergency. This would later shift the focus to psychological concern in the cockpit. Admitting to an error when flying is crucial as it is the first step to a proactive approach to the incident. A perfect flight is not likely however, but striving for the best flight will allow for smaller errors and manageable. These errors are successfully managed by CRM training, which is well thought-out and strategically set in place for the operation. As of 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration has placed outlines of CRM training for commercial airlines to use in their standard operating procedures. Presently, CRM involves person-machine interface, appropriate information, leadership, team formation, problem solving, and decision making in the cockpit. CRM training requires communication skills which will allow pilots to understand the effectiveness of this method.

Not one solution can be the ultimate change to this issue. However, it is the constant adaption to new and improved technology that will ultimately determine how to combat the increased automation issues. At Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation, we gain first hand experience of just how advanced aircraft have become. However, it is how we adapt and perform with autopilot that determines how we will perform in a commercial aspect.

Topics: Aviation, aviation training, WMU

Rowing the Boat

Posted by Eric Epplett on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 @ 04:10 PM

Rowing The Boat 
Reina Cooke
Aviation Management and Operations

If you’ve been on Western’s campus or watched ESPN lately, I’m confident that you’ve come across three specific letters: RTB. Coach PJ Fleck and his football team have captivated WMU’s campus with their motto, taking it farther than the field and into students’ lives. What’s it all about? “Row The Boat is a method of how our whole program will fit together,” Fleck said. “It’s also a saying that has such a simple meaning, but there’s so much behind it in terms of a way for the whole community, the whole faculty, administration, players and student body can rally behind something greater than itself. There are three parts to rowing the boat. There is the oar, which is the energy behind rowing the boat. There is boat, which is the actual sacrifice, either our team or the administration or the boosters or the audience or whoever is willing to sacrifice for this program. There is also the compass. Every single person that comes in contact with our football program, fans or not, they are all going for one common goal and that is success.” 

However, crucial to this mantra is that is applies to much more than football and winning games. “When you literally talk about rowing the boat, you’re facing the opposite direction the bow of the boat is actually going,” he said. “You’re not able to see the future. We’ve set sail and we’ve set our direction from point A to point B, whether it’s right now to win a MAC Championship, or be the first person in your family to get a college education or to beat cancer.” The oar has become a symbol of passion, strength, and perseverance. It is a reminder to push onward, whether on the football field, in the classroom, or even a Cirrus SR20. Taking Coach Fleck’s concept and applying it personally is what it’s all about: being a better you. As pilots, maintenance technicians, and aviation professionals, the message is just as pertinent… never give up. 

This weekend, thanks to our team’s 10-0 record, College Game Day will be in our town of Kalamazoo. Cheering on my fellow Broncos, rallying behind something greater than myself, has proven to be some of my greatest memories while at college. Attending WMU, I’ve become part of a community. Here, we strive for integrity, authenticity, empowerment, and collaboration. I’m thankful that I attend a university that always provides new opportunities and experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, as well as one that will continuously stress the effectiveness of a dynamic lifestyle. Row The Boat is more than a motto; it’s a way of life.

Topics: Aviation, WMU, WMU Broncos

Attending WMU's Aviation Summer Camp

Posted by Eric Epplett on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 12:07 PM

Attending WMU's Aviation Summer Camp
Reina Cooke
Aviation Management and Operations

Two years ago, I hadn’t graduated high school yet. I was flying full speed ahead towards my senior year and my summer was packed with service trips, ACT prep, college tours, and a job. When I first discovered Western held an Aviation Summer Camp, I wasn’t originally sure if I would be able to fit it into my schedule. However, making the time was the best choice I made regarding my ultimate career and college decision. 

First, coming to camp reaffirmed that aviation was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The week is filled with multiple activities and events that opened my eyes to the rest of the industry and precisely what I needed to do to get my foot in the door. Speakers from the industry provide insight and answer questions that I hadn’t been given the opportunity to ask before. Flight planning and flying was a new experience for me. Also, as aviation isn’t as common of a career path, I was surrounded by people who shared the same passion as me for the first time. 

Secondly, I made connections with the counselors and staff that have continued to impact me today. As aviation is such a small industry, connections are something that are stressed from the very beginning of your professional career. One of the counselors happened to be just beginning his air traffic control career (my intended career path also) and he has kept in touch often and proved a fantastic resource for any questions. He even invited me for a tour of the center and tower where he works. The College of Aviation’s staff, who helps on move in day, recognized me and made me even feel more at home on my first day of college. Today, I work with many of my fellow campers and even counselors. 

Furthermore, spending a week in the dorm gave me familiarity with the campus and made finding my way on my first day of freshman year much less stressful. Last but not least, the week was just fun. Besides all the aviation related activities, we went laser tagging, go karting, mini golfing, even scuba diving. Simply playing card games at night, making jokes on the ride to the airport, or sharing funny stories… that week, I met the people who are my best friends today. We stayed in touch via Facebook and Snapchat throughout our senior year of high school and reconnected when we all moved on campus to begin our first year at WMU. Now, our sophomore year, I’m roommates with two of them. Coming to Western’s Aviation Summer Camp put me where I am today and I will always be thankful for making the time to attend.

**Aviation Summer Camp 2017 will be held June 25-30, 2017 and July 9-14, 2017.  More details can be found here.

Topics: Aviation, WMU, flying, Aviation Summer Camp


Posted by Dennis Muli on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 @ 11:31 AM


We have all heard of the term “six degrees of separation” at some point. It is a theory that any two people on the planet are connected through a chain of acquaintances of five intermediaries or less. In the aviation industry, that number comes down to three or even two.

In this industry, anyone can be an acquaintance to your boss, co-worker or fellow students. We rely so much on networking that the size of your professional network has a correlation with your success in aviation. Take the instructors at the College of Aviation as an example; these are well connected individuals in the industry.

During my time at EAA's AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer, I met many individuals who have either worked with or have met these instructors at a conference. There were talks about how today is the best time to be in aviation because of the rapid growth that is happening globally. At the end of my interaction, I realized how small our professional community is and how everything that you do will indirectly affect you in the future.

That acquaintance of yours could also be your ticket to an interview with that airline that you have been dreaming of. That short conversation you had with a recruiter on Aviation Outlook Day might make him remember you the next time he sees you in the interview room.

At the end of the day, anyone that you have met on your journey should be treated respectfully and courteously as you never know when you will cross paths with them again.  Like I said, it’s a small world especially in aviation.

Topics: Aviation, International Student, wmu college of aviation

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